The Hapless 13: Phrases That Call Centre Agents Must NEVER Say


Customer interactions, both good and bad, are likely to affect brand loyalty. However, a recent article published by marketingcharts.com asserted that “bad customer service interactions [are] more likely to be shared than good ones”. Therefore, you, as a customer service agent, must ensure that every caller is pleased with your service skills, so that the business which you represent is not negatively affected by the consequences of your customer interaction. To do this, you must be made aware of common customer service phrases that irritate callers.

Listed below are 13 such statements and suitable suggestions for how to refrain from using them.

13. What were your details again?

A common source of customer frustration comes from when they are made to repeat their personal information and details to a call centre agent. Customers appreciate efficiency, so make sure that you have clearly recorded such details in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, in order to avoid repeating yourself. As a representative of your company, the customer will consider your efficiency as a trademark for the business.

12. I’ll get him/her to call you back in a minute.

Putting an ambitious time limit on when a colleague will continue a customer enquiry can be tricky. If you offer the customer such a time restriction, and your co-worker fails to work to it, this can be misconstrued as laziness on your colleague’s and your own part. Thus, you risk damaging your company’s reputation. Unless you are absolutely certain that the other person will be able to contact the customer within the required time limit, never offer one.

11. Let me investigate.

Whilst it may seem a perfectly legitimate statement to make, this phrase is too vague and can cause the customer to feel like they are about to be involved in a massively drawn-out situation. You must remember that efficiency is crucial to effective customer service. Therefore, you should inform them of your action plan for resolving their query and provide them with a realistic time period in which you will deliver that solution.

10. You are our priority.

As a call centre agent, you are probably going to receive hundreds of calls every day, and the majority of these callers will understand the sheer number of people that you have been talking to. Therefore, it is likely that the customer will feel patronised by such a comment, knowing that you have only said it to “sweeten them up”. So instead, divert yourself from using such language and simply present your intentions to solve the matter, whist ensuring that the customer is happy with each detail provided.

9. It’s company policy.

Although it may seem a difficult statement to avoid making, adopting this phrase can make you seem disinterested in and insensitive to your customer’s demands. In truth, the phrase is a conversation terminator. A customer’s expectations are highly unlikely to overlap with the internal policies of a business, so replace this phrase with a declaration of what you can do to go the extra mile for your caller and ensure customer loyalty.

8. Please can you hold for a moment?

Being forced to wait is something that no customer enjoys and it can cause them to feel frustrated when they have little idea of why you have done so. In order to minimise such frustration, keep them informed of the actions that you intend to take while they are on hold. If you do so, they are more likely to be patient and understanding during a lengthy conversation, as you are consciously making an effort to please an already disgruntled customer.

7. Thanks for your time.

Developing relationships with your customer increases the likelihood of exceeding their expectations. Therefore, it is important for a call centre agent to ensure that each customer has a personalised experience. To do so, you should avoid generic customer service phrases, such as the one above, as it may seem insincere and robotic. As an alternative, agents must thank each customer in an authentic and personalised manner.

6. If you check our website…

By making this statement, you are basically notifying the customer that you cannot help them. In addition, it is likely that the customer has already checked the website as it is an easier method of finding the answer to their query. So instead, offer to email them the link to the webpage that can assist them. By doing this, you have proven yourself to be a useful aid, as you have saved the customer the time of having to search your website again.

5. You should not have done that.

When customers get something wrong it can be wearisome for call centre agents, but you must remember that what may seem painfully obvious to you may not be so easily comprehensible to them. Whilst you have a detailed knowledge of the product/business that you represent and think about each day, the customer’s expertise will be much less advanced. So, be prepared to instruct the caller with patience, understanding and encouragement, thus avoiding phrases like the one above.

4. That is not my department.

Whilst this may be true, the customer is likely to have zero interest in the job title of who can solve their matter, they just want an answer. If you cannot directly answer a customer’s request, you should take it upon yourself to handle the matter. Tell the caller what you can do and converse with the relevant department yourself, as you work to a realistic time limit that you have agreed upon in your initial conversation.

3. I don’t know/I’m not sure.

Using this phrase reflects badly on you and the company that you are representing, as the customer may assume that you have had improper training and that you are not knowledgeable about the brand. However, when there is a query which you are genuinely not equipped to answer, you should use phrases such as “let me find out for you” and refrain from using negative expressions such as those noted above.

2. That has nothing to do with me.

As a representative of your company, this is never the case. You can never give off the impression that you are happy to take a customer’s money but not to assist them when they are in a desperate situation. Even if you did not intend to transmit this suggestion, the customer could misinterpret such a comment. Thus, you must take responsibility for the caller’s request and find the relevant partner/supplier who can help, and use your first-hand relationship with them, a relationship that the caller does not have.

1. Sorry, there is nothing I can do.

Wasting the valuable time of a customer is something that a call centre agent must avoid at all costs. As a call centre agent, you must attempt to solve the problem first-hand rather than simply diverting it away and squandering the caller’s time. So, do not be afraid to get creative. Find other options and innovative solutions to ensure that in some way you are assisting the customer with their demands and fulfilling their expectations of you.

Click here for our 11 Things a Call Centre Agent Should Never Say (But Many Do)

Written by Charles Mitchell, Call Centre Helper

Published On: 16th Nov 2016 - Last modified: 27th Jan 2017
Read more about - Essential Call Centre Tools , , ,


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